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  • Welcome to Gale Photography

    Hello, and welcome to my website! I'm Derek Gale, photography trainer and Fine Art photographer.

    If you are looking to improve your photographic creativity, skills or knowledge, check out the Photography Training pages.

    For beautiful Fine Art images that showcase my personal vision take a look at the Fine Art Photography pages.

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“They’re just holiday snaps.”

How many times do I hear people say, “They’re just holiday snaps”?   Well, your holidays are the time off you’ve earned as a result of all the hard work you’ve done during the rest of the year, so shouldn’t your holiday photographs be the best they can be!   Luckily, there are techniques you can learn to get great holiday images. 

Here are some of my recent holiday images.  They were all taken with a digital compact camera, which shows that you don’t need a fancy camera to get great holiday images.

Holiday images need to capture the feelings you had on your holiday, or recreate the experiences.  This image of the sky at Whitstable in Kent sums up my feelings of relaxation on that day, and also the superb view.

sea-&-sky by Gale Photography

"Sky at Whitstable" by Gale Photography

Once you have chosen your subject, you should then compose your shot to give the greatest impact.

"O2 arena at dusk" by Gale Photography

"O2 Arena at dusk" by Gale Photography

With this image of the O2 Arena in London I’ve waited till sunset so I got the arena’s lights with an interesting sky behind the arena’s supports.  I’ve then cropped off  some of the foreground to give the best composition.  This is the “fill the frame only with interesting stuff” rule.

Some of our trips on holiday involve going to historic buildings where photography can be a bit of a challenge.  Here’s an example from Canterbury Cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral ceiling by Gale Photography

Canterbury Cathedral ceiling by Gale Photography

I wanted to capture the fantastic vaulted ceiling on the “Bell Harry Tower”, but the exposure set by the camera meant that hand-holding wasn’t practical because of camera shake.  The little flash on my Lumix digital compact camera wasn’t anywhere near powerful enough to light it, so what could I do?  Easy !!  Put the camera on the floor underneath the centre of the ceiling, set the self-timer, press the shutter, and move out of the way.  The result is a sharp image showing just what I wanted.

"Ightam Mote panorama" by Gale Photography

"Ightham Mote panorama" by Gale Photography

Finally, there are times when you just can’t get everything in because your camera’s lens isn’t wide enough, or you just can’t get far enough away.  I had this problem at Ightham Mote in Kent.  I couldn’t fit it all in because a hedge stopped me going far enough back.  The solution was to take a number of images (6 I think) that covered the whole of the building, and then stitch them together afterwards to give one complete image of the whole building.  Sounds a bit complicated but it’s actually very easy.  I used a free program called Autostitch, but there are plenty of others available.

All of these tips, and plenty more, are covered in our “The Creative Eye” photographic training course which we’re running in the New Year.  Our website has details of the dates and venues.

Happy Holidays | EichyNovember 5, 2009 - 5:25 am

[…] So what are you waiting for? Hop on a plane, get in a car or just take a walk somewhere. Take your friends or family and don’t forget that camera:) […]

Making an exhibition of myself!

My, what a busy weekend we had! 

We were exhibiting in two places at once on Saturday.  The first was at the National Trust “Coleshill Food Festival”.  Astute observers will notice that we’re not involved in producing food, but offer creative portrait photography and photographic training.  Well, at the show there were some craft stands, and that’s where we come in.  Mind you, the sort of thing we try and do with our portrait photography also applies to food…

Stuffed peppers by Gale Photography

It’s a nice off-centre composition, and shows the food to its best advantage.  It works with people too. 

Our stand at the Food Festival was busy all day, and we had lots of interest in both the portrait photography and the photographic training courses. 

The second place we exhibited was at Pat Elmore’s sculpture garden in Longcot as part of Swindon Open Studios.  The weather was great on the Saturday, and it looked more like the Med than Oxfordshire!  

sculpture by Gale Photography

I also had lots of interest in the Fine Art abstract images printed on aluminium.  You can check my previous posts to remind yourselves what they look like. 

Whilst I was there I took the chance to go round Pat’s sculpture garden, and to take some creative images using the sort of techniques we cover in our “The Creative Eye” course.

Roof Spider by Gale Photography

This “spider ” on the glass roof of a greenhouse caught my eye, as did this fabulous pattern on the leaf of a large plant.

Plant stripes by Gale Photography

In the “Spider” image I’ve put the main subject well off-centre, and with the pattern image there’s a lovely diagonal curve.  You can find out more about these and other compositional techniques at one of our courses.

See you soon!

It’s only words…

All around us there are words.  Our environment is full of notices, adverts, signs (mostly directing, allowing or forbidding!) and other visual paraphenalia.  These words can make for interesting and thought-provoking images, especially if you deliberately remove the context.  Here’s an example…


Who, or what, or where, is “VERY OLD”?   Who carved the letters, and why?  The image of just the words and sky doesn’t actually help you answer these questions, so you need to let your imagination take over.

Sometimes the sign seems odd even when you know the context.  At first glance this sign is laughing at you – like the Nelson Muntz character in “The Simpsons”.  It’s actually to indicate the presence of a “ha ha” or sunken ditch to keep animals from straying.  Use a low angle to remove the background and you have an instant mystery.


Finally, here’s an Extra image.  Like the other two images it works well because it’s been simplified with a low angle, and a plain blue sky.


As a project you could think of a well known phrase, go round looking for the words in that phrase, take a series of images of those words, and then put together a composite image showing the whole phrase.   Try it!

To really get your photographic ideas going, why not come to one of our Training courses? Check out

Here comes the sun

In the old days of photography, Kodak’s advice about taking pictures was to shoot with the sun behind you.  This was because lenses weren’t very good, and film was not very sensitive to light, so you needed lots of light on the subject.  This resulted in nice, well exposed, shots of your friends and family squinting into the sun!!  Nowadays, with huge advances in lens and sensor technology, you can ignore Kodak’s advice and shoot directly towards the light.  It’s called “contre jour” photography.  With care* you can get great images.

Here I’ve used the shape of the Millenium Bridge at Gateshead, to block the sun and give a super highlight to the image.


In some images, such as this shot of a kite at Wroughton Kite Festival, this technique gives an almost black and white effect, because you are reducing the range of tones captured.


Of course, if you convert the image to black and white, and increase the contrast in Photoshop, you can use the strong silhouettes to give a powerful composition.


Finally, even the modern-day equivalent of Kodak’s “Box Brownie” camera; a compact digital camera, performs surprisingly well for “contre jour” photography.  This image of a child on a climbing frame was taken with a Panasonic Lumix FX-500.


I dropped down to get a nice low angle, and used part of the structure to prevent sunlight hitting the lens directly.

We cover this technique, and others, in our “The Creative Eye” photographic course/workshop.  Have a look at our Training and Treks page for more info at



* You need to be careful with this type of creative photography to ensure that you never look directly at the sun!

Twitted by philallcockSeptember 3, 2009 - 10:23 am

[…] This post was Twitted by philallcock […]

Here comes the sun | Place Pay BlogSeptember 3, 2009 - 11:53 am

[…] here:  Here comes the sun Posted in Digital Camera, News, Other | Leave a […]

Here comes the sun | Adobe TutorialsSeptember 3, 2009 - 3:04 pm

[…] In the old days of photography, Kodak’s advice about taking pictures was to shoot with the sun behind you.  This was because lenses weren’t very good, and film was not very sensitive to light, so you needed lots of light on the subject.  This resulted in nice, well exposed, shots of your friends and family squinting into the sun!!  Nowadays, with huge advances in lens and sensor technology, you can ignore Kodak’s advice and shoot directly towards the light.  It’s called “contre jour” photography Read more from the original source: Here comes the sun […]

A right Royal event!

Avid readers of the blog will know that I was due to run a “Creative Eye” photographic workshop at the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) HQ in Bath.  Well, it’s happened and was very enjoyable!

We had a full group of 10, and they had a good range of photographic skill and experience.  All came with a willingness to learn, and have fun while they did it.  Here they are, photographed during the “creative use of camera shake” exercise…

RPS camera shake exercise

Fenton House, the RPS HQ, has an excellent range of spaces, and lots of photographic opportunities.  One of the training course exercises involved looking for textures and patterns, and we were spoilt for choice.

RPS pattern 2

This shot of a Venetian blind is an optical illusion.  It is rectangular, with parallel sides, but your eyes keep wanting to make the diagonal lines straighter, so the image edges start to look crooked.  Try looking at it for a minute!

One of the exercises involved the group taking a “creative group photo”; this was hilarious.  They arranged themselves on the floor of Fenton House’s exhibition space, and let their feet do the talking.

RPS group exercise

All in all I, and more importantly the delegates, thought the “Creative Eye” workshop went really well.  We are planning to run this photographic workshop with the RPS again next year, so keep your eyes on the RPS website, or on our Training and Treks pages.